Skip to main content

tv   British Ambassador to the U.S. on Brexit Negotiations  CSPAN  November 6, 2018 10:24am-11:56am EST

10:24 am
actually have several friends who are tran. this new policy i guess that's currently called -- because it hasn't been formally voted in yet or proposed, i don't believe, is in my eyes just further evidence of why the government has no business -- has no business being in so involved in my life. i don't think this is something they should have a say in, but they've been voting about a lot of things they shouldn't have a say in. it's important to me that this is resolved because if it's not, that takes away more rights from me and my ability to exist. >> voices from the states, part of c-span's 50 capitals tour. tonight on american history tv in prime time we look at world war i and the history of naval warfare.
10:25 am
stanley carpenter, a professor at the naval war college, talks about the fleets of the allies and central powers, their artillery and strategies used in battles at sea. watch american history tv in prime time tonight beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span 3. now we take you to the brookings institution in washington, d.c., for a look at the state of brexit negotiations. british darroch joined for the hour and a half long discussion. >> we have a full house. it's great to welcome everyone today. my name is tom wright. i'm director of the center of the united states and europe here at brookings. i'm delighted to welcome you all here today, whether you are in the audience, joining us via
10:26 am
webcast or watching on c spa-sp. for the brink of brexit, the united kingdom and the future of europe. let me take a moment to thank the partnership we have and to acknowledge the part of our bbti, brookings initiative. we're able to do things here on europe at brookings that would not be possible without the support and partnership we have. we look forward to work we have in the coming years on brexit and other issues. indulge me for one brief moment, i would like to make a few thoughts thoughts to frame the conversation. britain's pending exit from the eu, whether one agrees with it or not, will shape the future of the uk, the future of europe and also the future of the transatlantic relationship. my colleague amanda sloat, who is on today's panel, has an important new report in which
10:27 am
she documents that brexit may have a detrimental impact on the good friday agreement of peace in northern ireland and put pressure on evolution with scotland. we look forward to hearing her thoughts on that. brexit will transform the european union, raising major questions about the future relationship of the continent to britain, but also about the future direction of european integration, which is something we're going to look at in coming months. we're seeing stark divisions within the eu on how far and fast the process of brexit should proceed. brexit will also have an important impact on the transatlantic relationship. while most americans are very familiar with the term brexit, it's one of those that really penetrated immediately into the public consciousness. remarkably, the united states has been very absent from the negotiations, which mark a departure of perhaps america's traditional role as an active participant in debates
10:28 am
around europe's future. it does impact on vital u.s. interests and towards that end here at brookings we're committed in engaging on these issues including launching a project on the future of the special relationship over the next 12 months and how that special relationship will fit into the broader transatlantic relationship after brexit. we're delighted today to be joined by a really stellar panel. edward luce is u.s. national affairs editor of "the financial times" and columnist with that newspaper and he is also author of "the retreat of western liberalism" which is available on amazon and all good book shops. i recommend it. ed will moderate the panel. sir kim darroch is the united kingdom's ambassador to the united states. thank you very much for joining us here today. amanda sloat is one of our robert boss senior fellows at brookings and author of the report "divided kingdom, how brexit is making the united
10:29 am
kingdom's constitutional order." lucinda creighton served in the irish government as europe -- minister for european affairs and doug glass alexander is a senior fellow at harvard university's belfast university for science and affairs and served as minister for europe and secretary of state for scotland in the british government. i would like to recognize the irish ambassador with us today and just please feel free to use your phones tweeting about today's events. with that, over to you. >> thank you very much. it's a pleasure, as always, to be at brookings and see so many familiar faces. thank you for having me. it's a pleasure to have a well-qualified panel and diverse panel to discuss this imminent on the brink issue that we're all facing. just to remind you for those who
10:30 am
are not [ inaudible ], we've got halloween approaching next week and sure enough, theresa may, at the same time, is very close to midnight, late night sessions in brussels, trying to negotiate something approximating her checkers deal for the europeans to accept the deal for britain's divorce agreement, which has to happen by march 29th under article 50 and which includes three things -- one, what happens to europeans living in britain and britons in europe, two, the money, which is also pretty much being resolved, and three, which is unresolved and we're going to focus on a lot today is not wrecking the good friday agreement -- in other words, keeping the irish republic's border open with northern ireland. we're going to focus a lot on that nowadays today.
10:31 am
the key thing here, though, is britain's [ inaudible ] is not going to result in candy. it's going to be giving candy to brussels, how much and what degree of bad will. we've got a very diverse range of scenarios on offer. people talk about radical uncertainty now adays in geopolitics. but the radical uncertainty in the coming weeks and months what's going to happen with brexit is really very, very acute. it's as plausible that britain crashes out in a no deal from brexit next march, theresa may having failed to secure a divorce agreement, or having succeeded and parliament having voted it down, as it is i think after last saturday's 700,000 strong march in london for a peoples vote, that there is a second referendum, and then the
10:32 am
third ordinarily mainstream scenario that theresa may gets her deal, parliament agrees and we go to brexit on march 29th, after which the real negotiations begin. this is just the clearing on what a post-brexit britain and europe looks like. let's start with the radical uncertainty. kim, you have been -- i'm going to you not because -- not to persecute you, but because you've been britain's ambassador to the eu. you were national security adviser to the british prime minister and you're britain's ambassador in the united states. you have deep experience of representing the british government and speaking on its behalf. what is your prognosis of the three scenarios? the slightly apocalyptic no deal scenario, may gets it done and squeaks it through parliament
10:33 am
scenario and until recently the people's vote scenario, perhaps slightly less now? what are you looking at as the probability here? >> well, thanks for that colorful introduction. thanks for coming to me first. you have presented what feels like one of those foreign office submissions with three options for ministers where we want to choose the middle one, so i'm going to choose the middle one and let me explain why. the withdraw agreement, which is the agreement between the eu and the 27, which covers all of our arrangements, is the prime minister announced in the house of commons yesterday, 95% done and we have provisional agreements on money, on the rights of eu citizens living in the uk and the rights of uk citizens living in europe, and most of the rest of the
10:34 am
arrangements. the hardest part was always going to be around the deal on what happens on the irish border, and so it is proving, but let's -- we have got 95% of the way there. if we get the free trade deal that is embodied in the proposal, there's no issue of the irish border, that gets solved, and that is plan a. there's a backstop arrangement if that negotiation should not be completed in the implementation of the transitional period that runs until the end of december 2020 and that's not where we expect to be or want to be. we're talking about contingencies that we hope never happens. now we still have -- there's another european council in december, it's still possible
10:35 am
there could be an extra european council at some point in november. we both -- all of us want the same objective. the commission government and the irish government and the other member states, which is no hard border between northern ireland and the republic of ireland, i am confident we can get there and get a deal. you need to do a political agreement about the future. i did maybe 30 or 40 big european negotiations in my time doing this in my 15 years doing this work. i'm confident that is achievable with the usual creativity that specialists and technicians bring to drafting agreements. i'm relatively confident about getting the deal with our european partners. i would accept that it looks quite a tight vote in the house of commons when you bring that agreement to the house of commons, but i think there's a lot of talk now between the newspapers and usually unnamed
10:36 am
mps who are saying they will be able to vote for it. when they consider the alternatives that will concentrate minds. i think everyone has the machinery and can encourage the mps to support new deals with other groups. my money is on her, despite all the predictions at the moment getting the deal through the house of commons, getting to that place. >> just briefly, wayent to moi to lucinda. we hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. to what degree is contingency no deal planning in the british government? >> as the government said, there is planning going on. i know that our colleagues are looking at all of this. with we're also trying to find a way through that involves a deal, not no deal, so there's
10:37 am
quite a lot going on. it is absolutely not the expectation and not the maplan. the plan is to get a deal in the next month and a half and get a deal with the house of commons. >> lucinda, your political career has been very much engaged with europe, but also ireland. it spanned the sort of integration of europe, the minister for europe, you were a member of the european parliament and dealt with the irish presidency at the european union, so you're steeped in this stuff. that same time period has also been the entrenchment and the success of the good friday agreement that has achieved peace in ireland. how fearful are you that that is now in jeopardy? to what degree is your no deal contingency planning in ireland
10:38 am
now sort of live activity? >> so i think the risks surrounding this final phase of the negotiations are very high and there is a huge degree of concern in dublin and in belfast and across the ireland around the prospect of a, a deal not being concluded -- i think it probably will. i spend a lot of my time in brussels and i think there's a real desire. i also spend a lot of time in london and there is a desire on both parts of both sides to do a deal. i agree with kim on that. i think the arithmetic in the house of commons -- i'm sure douglas will talk about this from his direct experience from being a member of parliament -- it's a highly risky scenario. there is a lot of planning
10:39 am
across government departments in dublin, and it's a difficult thing to plan for. there's a lot of sort of theoretical planning under way. i think the implementation of that is very unclear. i think that there is a legitimate and a really deep emotional concern in ireland around the political future on the ireland. you know, it's a very sensitive topic in london and those who advocate for brexit and even possibly for no deal, really don't like the issue of the peace process in northern ireland to be raised at all. they were angry when the prime minister raised it at the european council last week, but he was right to raise it. peace is hard and it's very fragile and very easily lost. you know, i concluded my high school exams believing in 1998
10:40 am
and i come from that generation which, you know, through our childhood witnessed on our televisions every single evening bombs, not just in northern ireland, by the way, but also in britain, which devastated people's lives. thousands of people killed. that is something that the people across the island of ireland are deeply concerned about maintaining and preserving the peace process. we don't take it for granted. we are really concerned about what a no deal scenario could potentially unleash if there isn't agreement by -- before march and probably by the end of this year. this is a real risk, a real threat, and something that irish people are really concerned about. >> you're steeped in british politics, minister for europe in
10:41 am
the last labor government, you were secretary of state for scotland, which, of course, we're going to bring into this conversation, and you were opposition spokesman on foreign affairs. given your parliamentary experience, you are now at harvard, of course, which is not where most left behinds are, but you're still in a position to observe with your experience judge the prospects here, given your parliamentary experience and given the leadership of your party, jeremy corbyn, is, at best, a luke warm, pro-european, but somebody who didn't turn up to the march last saturday, what are the chances something could go wrong in this vote and we could crash into a no deal -- hard no deal situation? >> i think the risks are real and the jeopardy is very great. there is, of course, a negotiating risk. can the two sides find common
10:42 am
ground on the issue of the backstop? there was agreement on that in the december council 2017, but the smartest minds in lon and dublin and in brussels so far have not managed to find a formulation. in classic negotiation, both sides want to find that common ground and the consequences of not finding that common ground -- for all the reasons we've just heard -- are extremely severe. my hope would be in the immediate days and weeks ahead, we will see progress in relationship to the negotiations. in december of 2017 there wasn't simply agreement reached on the irish backstop. there was an undertaking by theresa may from her own ventures in the house of commons there would be a meaningful vote on the outcome of the negotiations. i think we need to counter not just the negotiation risk, but a ratification risk. the reason there is such speculation across the united kingdom at the moment, is that there is no majority in
10:43 am
parliament for any of the negotiation outcomes that are under contemplation. while i admire kim's characteristic british understatement in suggesting this will all be resolved, i have to say, as we say in scotland, the reason i have my doubts it seems that the democratic unionsist party may well not support their partners in the conservative party when it comes to the issue of the character of the relationship between northern ireland and the republic. there are a number of conservative mps who have declared they're not prepared to support the deal as it's under contemplation. the working assumption in downing street right now seems that the labor party will step in and save theresa may. i have to say, i am deeply, deeply skeptical that you will see anything like the number of labor mps that the conservative
10:44 am
whips office are presuming who support theresa may in those circumstances, tripping through the division. in that sense i think that even if we were to see a breakthrough in the negotiations between the united kingdom and brussels in the coming weeks, then the drama moves to the house of commons and at the moment i don't see there is a parliamentary majority for any of the proposals on the table. >> i should add on to your compliment to kim's wonderful diplomatic poker face, that shortly after trump was elected he tweeted that niegel faraj should be the new ambassador. nobody in london even heard this or read this tweet. marvelous thing there. amanda, i want to get into the constitutional and evolutions of the questions implied by this, but let's start on the immediate, what the dup, democratic unionist party which props up the theresa may government, without them there's
10:45 am
no majority, what their concerns are with the plan and with the border agreement with the implications for keeping an open border implied by the plan? what is it that the dup can send and why is this a theological issue for conservative brexiters? >> it really has been a perfect storm of events. you remember that theresa may became prime minister following the resignation of david cameron after the brexit referendum. a year in she decided to hold snap elections as a well of strengthening her negotiating position, and as a result losing her parliamentary majority. at the same time it's worth noting that northern ireland has been without an assembly for over 500 days. at this critical time when we're discussing northern ireland's future, the only voice that's coming out is the voice of the democratic unionist party, which
10:46 am
is propping up theresa may's government in london, and there really is no voice otherwise coming out of belfast. when i was in northern ireland in may doing research on this report, i met with the dup representative who had been very senior and involved in these campaigns and the way he articulated it was that the dup recognizes that northern ireland has special circumstances but they don't want northern ireland to be given a special status. what the dup has been concerned about with the backstop is the idea that you would create a border in the irish sea and that you would be treating northern ireland separately from the rest of great britain. in many ways, what's offered in the backstop would be the best of both worlds economically for northern ireland because they would be able to still participate within the eu single market and customs union, but they would be operating within the uk framework. for the dup, this raises unacceptable status issues for
10:47 am
them in terms of the larger constitutional situation within the united kingdom and, therefore, has become to their political position. >> you, as an american, the only non-european on this, how do you assess the trump administration's role in all of this? tom was mentioning earlier in the introduction that a traditional american administration would be trying to finesse and help sort of insert itself constructively into these divorce negotiations. that's not happening, though, is it? >> no, it's not. it's been unclear in some ways what the u.s. position actually is. you had president obama who, of course, was forward leaning in terms of supporting. he went to london several months before the brexit referendum, expressed american support for a strong uk within a strong eu, suggested that the uk would be at the back of the cue in terms of free trade negotiations with
10:48 am
the u.s. if it went forward with brexit. trump has taken a very different approach. he called brexit a great thing. he has referred to the eu as a foe. i think in its worst case, is supportive of the weakening of the eu and breaking countries away from the eu. it's been surprising that u.s. has not been more involved in these negotiations on the northern ireland side. the u.s., of course, for decades supported the northern ireland peace process, we had majority leader mitchell very actively involved in shepherding the good friday agreements, but i think the u.s. really has not played a very active role. i think the u.s. government has assessed that it is not in its interest to have the uk crash out with no deal, that would be damaging in geoeconomic terms. the state department has made quiet things at periods in the process to encourage process in
10:49 am
the deal, but the u.s. really has not played the role that we might see from some traditional u.s. administrations in terms of putting pressure on both sides and, in particular, trying to find a way forward on northern ireland. >> it's not -- i should mention it's not just kim whose job was [ inaudible ] by trump but when trump was in britain, he suggested boris johnson would make a great prime minister. he's got a habit here. kim, i'm not going to -- >> another great intro. >> either of those questions -- kim, your -- one of the great claims of the brexit campaign and the brexiters, was a post-brexit, uk/u.s. trade deal, big free trade agreement between the u.s. and the uk. clearly britain wouldn't be in the position to negotiate this and america wouldn't want to negotiate this until we knew the
10:50 am
arrangements post-brexit, we knew exactly. trump did say one reasonable thing when he was in britain about this, which was if britain is de facto in the customs union, not formally, in order t irish border open, then it's going to be very hard to negotiate with britain a separate trade deal. that was a pretty reasonable point, right? what are the prospects for assuming chequers is the basis for the divorce agreement, what are the prospects for the supposed prize of brexit, namely a trade deal with america? >> the prime minister and the president have talked about this at each of the last several meetings i attended most recently in new york about three or four weeks ago. and we are keen on a free trade agreement and the president always says consistently how keen he and his administration are and how they will be ready
10:51 am
to start negotiating just as soon as we are. we have this implementation period running from 29 march 2019 to 31 december 2020 in which we can negotiate. i think we can even sign. the only thing you can't do in that period is actually implement the agreements. you can't implement until we have left everything at the end of december 2020. we've set up a trade investment working group, which has met four times, and bob lighthizer and liam fox, and that is a structure in which we will negotiate it when it happens. so everything is ready to go, and i'm confident once we have left on 29 march that we will start those negotiations quickly. the scoop of the negotiations, you're right, ed, and just how far we can go in terms of what freedom we have to set our own tariff levels and so on, we all
10:52 am
have to wait and see. we'll have to wait and see where we get to in terms of the future relationship between the uk and the eu, the free trade deal we want there, and how close we are to eu regulation and so on. but political will is there. the u.s. takes 20% of british exports, so it's already our biggest single bilateral trading partner. there is huge potential for a lot more, including particularly in the whole services sector. so this will be a top priority for the government once we are out. >> douglas, is it fair to say that if we did get into the position where technically the u.s. and the uk could start a big trade deal that that would be an ideal trumpian position, which is we're bigger, you're smaller. it would be britain -- >> i'm having to disagree with kim not because he hasn't eloquently described the
10:53 am
position of the government, but the position of the government is a post imperial fantasy. i was the trade investment and foreign affairs minister in a previous british government, and the idea that donald trump is willing and waiting to do an ultra generous deal with the united kingdom seems to me to be optimist optimistic, to put it at its most generous. the fact is trade negotiators are pretty unsentimental people. it comes down to arithmetic and psychology. if you look at the arithmetic, if you're sitting as a trade negotiator with 500 million behind you as part of the eu 28, then the deal you're able to strike is fundamentally different if you're sitting with 65 or 70 million consumers behind you. at the same time we're dealing with a president who got elected on a promise of putting america first. so the idea that he is for reasons of sentiment desperate to do a deal that helps the united kingdom seems to me to be
10:54 am
consistent with a view that's been really there from the outset from the brexiteers, which is that somehow by leaving the european union, britain will stand taller in washington or in beijing or in moscow and that we will somehow become a kind of buccaneering north atlantic singapore. and to my mind there really is literally no evidence to that effect. incidentally even on the so-called implementation period, the implementation period in reality is going to be a period during which a political declaration is translated into a legally binding treaty between the united kingdom and the 27. no serious country is going to engage in a meaningful way in trade negotiations with the united kingdom until they know the character of the united kingdom's relationship in terms of future trade with the eu 27 on our doorstep. so i think the idea that immediately at the beginning of april if we are in that scenario that the rest of the world is going to rush to britain's door to sign freed trade agreements
10:55 am
is just another reiteration of the conversation we were hearing two years ago that as soon as brexit happened, there was going to be a gathering rush of countries to do trade deals with the united kingdom. i might wish that was true but i see little evidence that it's going to be true. >> let me pick up on that fantasy theme. that's a fantasy that one can laugh at because it's not yet got real world implications. this deal could involve all kinds of unpopular things in britain. >> all you have to do is say chlorinated chicken and brits shudder. >> gm foods, exactly. but the fantasy theme is also extended. you've had very senior british conservative politicians like boris johnson, of course, michael gove to some extent talking in a very sort of
10:56 am
slapdash fashion about what island could do to accommodate itself to britain's decision. one said we could have people checking people that cross the borders. boris johnson has talked of computers solving it all, that you don't need any checks on the border, we can actually crash out entirely of the customs union and keep that. how is this kind of -- of course we've had the ire-exit talk. you should leave and come in with us which we would call the british isles. >> i think we've heard that before. >> you've seen this movie before and you're sitting in a way more comfortable seat now so you're a much more comfortable country. in what way is this bringing up bad memories and changing the
10:57 am
climate in the republic? >> it's a very big question in a sense. on the one hand, the relationship has clearly, you know, deteriorated in the last couple of years since 2016. we had a high point in bilateral relations when queen elizabeth visited in 2011 and came to ireland and traveled around the country. you know, there was a really strong bilateral relationship and personal relationships as well between various and a series of prime ministers. certainly those relationships have been strained in the last two years. and of course offense is taken by some of the remarks from some cabinet members and some leading lights within the conservative party. however, i would say i think we've gotten to the point in ireland where we're a little
10:58 am
desensitized from some of the nonsense coming from those people. so when boris johnson's father intervenes and says if irish people want to shoot at each other, that's fine. at this point i don't think anybody is taking that sort of nonsense seriously. and likewise when boris johnson wasn't the only one to talk about technical solutions to the border question. i mean that was a very serious line of talk within the conservative party and the line of government, maximum facilitation. so these are quite serious ideas that have been floated but one by one, they have all been batted away because they're nonsensical. >> i once heard it described as a cluster -- but that's a whole other topic. >> yes, it's offensive and sets back our relations. but you're right, ireland as a country is a much more economically successful place than it was in 1973 when it joined the european communities.
10:59 am
we have learned to stand on our own two feet. being part of the european union has given us a confidence that did not exist heretoforeand that has been amplified in the last two years. while ireland has the fastest growing economy in the european union, the uk economy has slowed down very significantly. so we have a sense of confidence about our economy, our society, our politics, and nothing, no degree of insults that might be flung at us by certain individuals in british politics will impact that. if anything, we definitely feel a stronger, more assured member of the european union as well. there were many in london who doubted the solidarity between eu member states and who said, oh, well, berlin and paris, when it comes down to it, will choose london over dublin because of the strength and size of the uk.
11:00 am
but in reality as we have seen, european solidarity, those countries who wish to remain within the european union, the single market and the customs union will stick together and defend the values and principles that underpin that union. that's why many are surprised to this day, even though we've been having these same conversations for at least 12 months around the border, around the peace process, and around this issue of a backstop. you know, all of the predictions about fragmentation, about divide and conquer within the eu have been proven wrong and in fact dublin's insistence at every stage that there would be solidarity has proven to be correct. and i have absolutely no doubt that that will continue right to the end of this process. >> douglas, i want to ask amanda -- >> that was very gracious in dismissing the insults, but one of the most profoundly
11:01 am
disturbing, distressing, depressing aspects of british public debate over the last 18 months has been the extent to which it has revealed very senior british politicians profound ignorance of relationships with our neighbors in ireland, a lack of affinity and understanding with the fragility of the peace that was secured by politics and can unsurely be undone by politics unless the right steps are done. and if i'm absolutely honest, i think it's revealing of the character of the modern conservative party. this used to be the conservative and unionist party. what we are witnessing, i believe, in the united kingdom today is the rise of english nationalism wrapped in the union jack. and actually what it's revealing is that many members of the conservative and unionist party, because they still travel under that name, have a cavalier disregard for the interests of the integrity of the united
11:02 am
kingdom, and in their minds if the cost of a so-called clean brexit is the breakup of the united kingdom, then that to them is a price that they would pay and that is a very mainstream opinion now within the conservative party, both in parliament and certainly in its membership across the country. >> amanda, you've written a very good paper to accompany this panel about the constitutional implications within britain for this. douglas has referred to the irish reaction and lucinda has spoken about that. you have got talk included of a referendum for united ireland. it's certainly much more live talk of a second scottish referendum. i've heard in reference to douglas' concerns about some of the ugliness of the debate in britain, i've heard the acronymic description of what a britain without northern ireland and scotland would be, which would be united kingdom of england and wales, fekua which i
11:03 am
think would be an apt expression of what you're talking about. how likely is that in practice, though? the scottish aren't looking for a referendum right now because they wouldn't win it, right? >> i think there's a lot of referendum fatigue in scotland right now. of course they had one in 2014 and i think we have learned that referendums do not answer these for generations, in fact they continue to keep these questions alive. so there is fatigue over that. having seen the messiness of brexit divorce, it highlights how messy a scotland/uk divorce would be. the discussion about northern ireland shows that if the uk is out of the customs union and single market and scotland wanted to rejoin the eu, you would then need to have some sort of hard border with scotland and england as a result of that. so i think the questions have become a lot more complicated in scotland. i think a lot of this is going to depend on how brexit plays out. people in scotland voted i think
11:04 am
68% to remain, so there was -- >> 62. >> 62%. so there was overwhelming support in scotland for staying in. certainly there has historically been a feeling in scotland that they are being dictated to by a government in london that they don't necessarily support and share the same views with. the one thing i talk about in my paper that i think is waungy constitutional but really matters is where powers from brussels will return when they come back to the uk. this has in fact become one of the big debates in scotland that could motivate questions emotionally for a second independence referendum. when the scottish parliament and other governments were set up the way the scotland act was written was that a number of powers would be at west minimmi and everything was at scotland. so when powers come back to the eu like environment, fisheries, many in scotland say these powers are not reserved and they should be coming back to us.
11:05 am
this actually has gone to the constitutional court in the uk and is continuing to play out as a live issue as to who actually controls these powers. if they are controlled by london for the sake of having a single market within the uk and things like agriculture and fisheries, you're going to have to deal with questions from the scots, the welsh, the northern irish about how they are involved in these discussions in london in terms of domestic policy making within the uk. >> in practical terms, the scottish are not going to be waived into the eu. the spanish will not see it happening. there's going to be all kinds of forces discouraging. and from what i understand, scottish public opinion is sort of paying heed to that. do they really want this reverse direction brexit with all the sort of -- >> i think brexit has changed the calculation a little bit. from the spanish perspective if this was a constitutional process that you had a referendum in the uk and
11:06 am
scotland were to become independent through constitutional means, that answers some of the questions about this illegal referendum in catalonia a couple of years ago. i think brexit is the uk leaving the eu and scotland wanting to remain so that's a different question for scotland wanting to be independent from the uk and trying to get a back door into the eu. scotland would have to reapply for eu membership but given that they implement all of the legislation, i think that would be a fairly easy case for them to make and opinion seems to have evolving in the european commission and spain and some of the others about this question. >> douglas, as a scot, do you want to -- >> well, i genuinely believe as of today the greatest threat to the integrity of the united kingdom is not scottish nationalism but english nationalism. we made our choice back in 2014 by a ten-point margin, 45% to 55%. the choice was to stay within the united kingdom. in the mind of the first minister, she believed that
11:07 am
where scotland did vote to remain as part of the referendum in 2016 would be the spark, the provocation that would spike support for independence up above 50%. in fact to change my metaphors, that was the dog that never barked. we really have not seen any significant change in the opinion polls in the months since the 23rd of june, 2016. in that sense i think there has been what bill clinton used to call a teachable moment, as we've witnessed the attempts to try and come to terms with the breakup of a 40-year union when contemplating the possibility of breaking up a 300-year union between scotland and england. and the reality is that public opinion in scotland at the moment remains opposed to independents. if you look again objectively at what were the reasons why as scots we made that voice, one of the reasons was economic. but very clearly the nationalists were unable to make
11:08 am
the case that there were credible answers on the currency, on european membership as you describe, but also on the fiscal position given the volatility of the oil price. each one of those issues have become more difficult, not more straightforward as a consequence of brexit. in that sense, nicholas sturgeon said she was going to call a second referendum and sort that mandate and proceeded to lose 21 seats in the house of commons in the general election of 2017. so i wouldn't want to leave you with the impression that they are chomping at the bit for independence. far from it. on the other hand my sense is if the nationalists are able to persuade people that there should be another referendum, they would fight the next referendum not on economics but on emotion, on the inhospitalability of being led by boris johnson or someone else
11:09 am
and i think there are very real threats represented by the present government and the course that has been set. but i think scots at the moment have a view if we shot ourselves in the shoot, let's not cut off our leg. >> let's stick with referendums for a moment and the sort of radical scenario. one of which of course is a no deal brexit, another which is a people's vote for the whole of britain to have a second bite at the apple. kim, as lucinda mentioned, the degree of eu unity in these talks has been perhaps underestimated, certainly by the brexiteers. they're quite clear that our specialist are with the member state involved here and that's ireland. in a sort of extreme scenario where, you know, we might be heading towards a no-deal brexit which would not just damage britain, it would damage ireland
11:10 am
and damage europe, do you think some of the strong fairly rigid european negotiating lines on the four freedoms of goods that if you've got to have all four or none, which is goods, services, capital and people, do you think that if it comes to a blinking, who blinks first situation, there might be mow flexibility in europe given your brussels negotiating experience? >> just very quickly, we are not on the other side from the irish government, for example, on the issue of the border between the republic and northern ireland. we're on the same side. we are both committed to no hard border between northern ireland and the republic of ireland. so what we're trying to do is work together to find a politically acceptable solution on that. the easy one is we get a free trade deal and then there's no question about what happens on
11:11 am
the border and so that's why the issue of the plan b of the backstop is the one that's outstanding. so this isn't the kind of adversarial position. on your question, look, i'm personally not surprised at the way that the negotiations have unfolded. if we get into a no-deal brexit outcome, we will survive, but it will be, i think, damaging to both sides, to europeans and to us. it's obviously much, much better, therefore, if we can find a way through. for the reasons i explained and set out in my first answer, i'm hopeful that we can. 95% of the deal is done. the other task that we have to do is a political statement on the future, which needs to be substantive and detailed enough to provide for the meaningful vote that we promised in the house of commons, but it's going
11:12 am
to be a political declaration, not a full legal agreement, which we will then need to negotiate afterwards. but it's difficult for me to see why given the other approach why it shouldn't be possible to reach that political outcome at either the special european council, so i'm hopefully optimistic that we will see what -- as the president often says, we'll see what happens next. >> we'll see what happens next. and you've got an admirable assumption that people share your optimism but the key actors are not weighing up things in a judicious manner. my question is, is whether that also applies to the europeans. lucinda, you've also got rich experience in europe. the assumption by the british, or many people in britain, has merkel is more sympathetic to a pragmatic deal.
11:13 am
angela merkel would be more sympathetic to something ad hoc that would suit britain, whereas macron is a lot more theological in that you have rules of a club and we're not going to bend them. might that change, the same question i posed to the ambassador, might that change in an extreme sort of game of chicken circumstances as we approach the deadline? >> i think merkel is a great friend of the uk. you know, going back to sort of the -- the sort of slow motion car crash, as i see it, which led to the referendum in the uk, all through that period where david cameron was trying to negotiate some sort of a compromise, some sort of deal that could work for the uk and would allow him to go back and have this referendum but convince voters to stay in, merkel held joint cabinet
11:14 am
meetings with the british government, ministers were -- there was huge intensity in that relationship. so she is -- i genuinely can say i think there's nobody around the table in the european council as sorry as she is to see what has unfolded. but to interpret that as a willingness to compromise on the fundamental pillars of the european union, the four freedoms, i think is to grossly misunderstand her. she is totally wedded to the free movement of people. she is totally committed to maintaining the integrity of the single market and the customs union, so that is not just a french position, that is fundamentally a german position. i've listened to the last two years to people in london saying, yeah, but the german car manufacturers, they're going to lean on the german government and there's going to be some sort of a compromise, a
11:15 am
last-minute deal around this, and i think that that's completely wrong. i think it's been proven to be wrong. merkel has made it clear, has communicated to german industry to say the single market is non-negotiable and it is a fundamental principle. and germany really sees itself as the custodian of those ideals, those european ideals. if anything, the risk of fragmentation makes that commitment stronger from a german point of view, so no is the answer. i don't see any wavering on that, and i don't see pressure coming, as has been anticipated in london since the beginning of the process. pressure coming from german and paris on dublin to somehow water down the language around the backstop and the border. that's not going to happen. i think people are really misunderstanding what the european project is and what it means to france and germany if
11:16 am
that's going to happen. >> even if merkel were playing that role that some in britain hoped she would be, there's no guarantee she'll even have a government or be in government by next march 29th. >> this is a huge problem. this is a problem for europe as a whole, which is the diminution of her influence and power and her weakened position in germany, there's no question about that. and also macron in a sense is emboldened. has a strong mandate and a big majority in parliament, but is really, really struggling in opinion polls and now there's this test case in terms of what they're going to do for the european elections in this sort of liberal alliance that he's pulling together. there are a lot of variables. but i think the one thing that is certain is that the european -- the existing 27, including some countries that have had pretty controversial disputes at european council level, hungary, poland, they have all been unified around the four freedoms and i think that
11:17 am
that is set to continue. so yes, i mean merkel is a pragmatist. yes, she wants to deal with the uk but it a be a deal on the terms of the basic fundamental principles of the european union. >> let's get to the other extreme scenario, possibly for most types of people in this room, a benign extreme scenario, which is that that march last saturday does bear fruit, it is the largest march in recent history, although it's worth pointing out that the last largest march was against the iraq war and that didn't work. but nevertheless, this is 700,000 people. in order to get that fantasy scenario of a second referendum, you're going to need one of the leaders of the two main parties to support it, aren't you? you're going to need jeremy corbyn to have a road to damascus moment or else in some sort of scenario to be ousted
11:18 am
and replaced by somebody else, which i think is probably even less likely at this point than having a second referendum. what are the chances in your view that pro-european members of the labor party like yourself, people like yourself who are still in politics, can buoyant to him and say three out of four labor voters want britain to remain in europe, these are your people. there are, to put it very crudely, 1.6 million more young voters in the british electorate than there were two years ago and the young tend to be more pro europe and to put it even more crudely, 750,000 fewer old voters because of mortality. the opinion polls show that it would probably win, you know, opinion polls can't be trusted. but there is a strong argument that you can make that you've just got to get with the tide here. what are the chances that argument is going to make
11:19 am
headway in the coming weeks? >> well, i don't really think that the argument that you've set out would come as news to jeremy corbyn and that has not shifted the position that he's adopted. the position that was carefully negotiated at the labor party conference after many hours of negotiation was that the option of a second vote was kept on the table but only in circumstances where first there had been deadlock in parliament and then the option of a general election had been rejected. and i think in terms of those 750,000 people on the streets of london at the weekend, that actually is the only credible route by which the aspiration will be fulfilled, which would be that we do see all of the possible alternatives, even a deal that's negotiated, voted down in the house of commons towards the end of this year or beginning of next year. the labor party is the party agitating for a general election. there's still the fixed term
11:20 am
parliament act which as a consequence of the last coalition government and them being unsuccessful in precipitating a general election, i find it personally very hard to believe that even conservatives angry with theresa may over the deal that she brings back from brussels are likely to walk in if the consequence of walking in is to put themselves in front of the british people any time soon. i think both the democratic unionist party and conservative party are deeply fearful of losing a general election to jeremy corbyn so this parliament will last probably a bit longer than the heated commentary at the moment suggests. but in those circumstances in some ways the question is as much for theresa may as jeremy corbyn. if parliament is deadlocked, she won't countenance a general election, could there be circumstances in which she said we've tried our best. parliament is deadlocked. we have to take this back to the people and at that point have a second vote. that would require the support
11:21 am
of the eu 27 in terms of a commitment to extending the article 50 timetable. i think that would be forthcoming in those circumstances, but it's a huge if. and you're absolutely right in your observation which is in a parliamentary democracy, which notwithstanding all of our discussions, you need the principal opposition or principal party of government to move to create circumstances in which a second referendum could take place. right now neither the leader of the labor party or the conservative party is particularly minded to go down that route. >> the other question, of course, is what the referendum question is. is it a take or leave the negotiated deal or is it a second referendum on whether or not you want to go forward with brexit. >> yeah. i presume that an evil scheming machiavellian ramona, as they're called, would have circumstances
11:22 am
where the parliament does this, the prime minister can't have a general election and now as you set out, okay, we'll put it back to the people. in which case, what would the question be? >> i think the only circumstance in which you get to that question is a profound constitutional crisis. you can clearly imagine the circumstances in which at that point the prime minister, if it's still theresa may, says, well, let's put my deal to the people and the alternative being no deal, i have to say i would be very surprised if the european council at that point was prepared to extend the article 50 process if it was only to ratify the deal that had been done rather than remain, but let's see, that may be a scenario. and i certainly think there would be a lot of voices agitating within the labor party to avoid that being the choice because the labor party will already have rejected theresa may's deal and clearly doesn't want to see no deal so it would leave the labor party in something of a dilemma on what to campaign for if that came to
11:23 am
pass. so you could conceive of circumstances where you could have a conservative leader proposing a referendum as a choice between her deal or no deal and a labor party politician leading the opposition arguing for remain versus the prime minister's deal. >> i think in the oldest parliamentary democracy in the world, i think it would be very difficult for a prime minister to take a deal that's been rejected in the house of commons and put it to the people. i think much more likely there will be a motion -- if this plays out and if the deal is rejected in parliament, that there will be an interim motion of no confidence in theresa may, that she will be deposed as leader and they will do business with boris johnson or whoever and have a second bite at the cherry. >> i predict there will be 1.4 million people on the next march, not 700,000. >> i think there is every possibility theresa may will not be the prime minister in the next few weeks and months, but i don't think we should read that as meaning there's going to be a change of government in a general election.
11:24 am
there's a very credible scenario we see a change of prime minister but both the dup and conservative party resisting the option of going to the country at that point. >> and the dup have hinted at this, where they have expressed an opinion and a preference for the next leader. >> this gets deeper into the populist problem. let's go with that scenario, a dup-backed avertly pro-brexit and boris johnson type government. the dup is socially not progressive, to put it mildly. it's been described as the political arm of the 17th century. its positions on various issues are not in tune with the larger public. that kind of scenario is also a constitutional breakdown scenario, isn't it? isn't that in support -- >> i do think it's an overstatement to say that we are in uncharted waters and we will be in even more uncharted waters in circumstances where
11:25 am
parliament rejects all of the options. as i say, every one of the scenarios that we're describing, one is left slightly scratching one's head thinking the united kingdom couldn't get to that place, could it? in a few weeks we could be in exactly that place. >> isn't that theresa may's ultimate trump card with the brexiteers, that actually rather than their government being formed, we could have a general election and it could be corbyn who's the next prime minister, in which case it's either my deal, it's chequers or corbyn. and that's a more persuasive argument than the dup short-lived brexiteer coalition. >> but the position of the brexiteers is that deal is a false one because they'll be able to vote down the deal. so in that sense that will be a threat made by the whips but they'll call their bluff at that point. i think it's important to recognize this is a drama and
11:26 am
civil war engulfing the british conservative party. rationality has a very small part to play in the drama unfold right now. >> i think it's important to understand the fear of the hard-line brexiteers. their greatest fear is, for example, theresa may's concession or proposal at the council, the european council last week to extend the transition period. that's the absolute disaster scenario for them. so they don't particularly want to deal. they're quite happy to end up with no deal because it's better than the alternative which could be a prolonged transition that ultimately might lead to a soft brexit, the uk staying in the single market customs union and that to them is not brexit so they are totally, ideologically opposed to that. and i think it's fairly predictable that they would rather a no-deal scenario than a scenario that allows for potentially an election in a couple of years that would lead
11:27 am
to even potentially another referendum or a soft brexit. they don't want that. >> and that was -- there was a survey that came out a couple of weeks ago saying 87% of the people in northern ireland said the peace process was a price to pay to ensure brexit happened. >> that's a cheerful thought. i want in a moment to get to questions, but just very quickly, a couple of questions. one for you, kim. you do a wonderful job as one of the britain's top diplomats putting the best face on what britain is up to. would it be fair to say that's more difficult now than it did -- than it was earlier in your career? and what ways do you have to manage the cognitive dissidence of the demands on your role? >> am i aging faster? >> you're doing well. >> thank you. look, this is -- as british
11:28 am
ambassador to the united states, i think it's the best job in our system so i'm delighted to be here. it's a fascinating time to be in america. the brexit story back in the uk has add an extra layer of complexity and challenge to the job but i welcome it all, and thank you for your concern, but i'm fine. >> good answer. let's go to questions. i've got a couple more in mind but let's open this up to the audience. no speeches or life histories. simple questions. the question two-thirds of the way back there. and just a straight question. >> okay. i have unique confidence over the panel. i grew up and know it intimately. i know what people across europe know and the ambassador from his youthful diplomatic career will know that there was never
11:29 am
stability in northern ireland until the irish agreement came. britain itself had no stability during your youthful career because of intense constantly between london and britain. as the prime minister and foreign minister of austria told theresa may a couple of weekends ago, they know there is no stability in modern europe without stability on the periphery. so i want to ask the question which i asked here nine months ago when the irish finance minister talked in a similar session on brexit. where and how are the views and preferences and needs of the people of northern ireland, who voted in a majority despite amanda's updated statistic, which i question, but the majority of people in northern ireland and the vast majority on the island of ireland see their economic and political stability and future in the context of a modern europe. the one thing that appalls me
11:30 am
about today is i haven't heard almost nothing, apart perhaps a little from lucinda, as to the reality on the ground in the border counties that can sustain stability in whatever arrangement comes out. can you, ambassador, please inform us as to what deliberations have taken place to consult and bring onboard the needs and views of the people of northern ireland and whatever political arrangements you're moving towards. >> the first thing to say is that in the good friday agreement was, i agree, one of the highlights and the great pieces of statesmanship of recent years. this prime minister, this government, are determined, absolutely determined to maintain the process, the peace process that's resulted from that and that has brought such
11:31 am
needed stability and peace to northern ireland. through the first half of my career, i lived through the troubles and had the task of explaining what was going on in northern ireland and on mainland britain at times when i was posted over seas. personally, it's just a huge transformation now to be talking about still difficult politics in northern ireland but from a position where the troubles have ceased. but the prime minister and the whole of the civil service are really committed to preserving this agreement. the prime minister is actually taking big political risks and has in a way gone to the wall over the issue of maintaining an open border between northern ireland and the republic of ireland. she's taken a lot of criticism from some of her back bench colleagues over that, and she's remained committed to it. and the reason we are in these difficult negotiations now about
11:32 am
the backstop arrangements is because she is so committed to this objective. i'm trying to find a way through all of it. in terms of what we are doing to keep the people of northern ireland -- of course there are endless debates in the house of commons on this in which people from northern ireland are participating. there is a formal process under which the government is consulting the administration and that has met certainly the figures are in double figures a lot of times they have met. in those meetings government ministers, westminster ministers explain where we've got in negotiations and seek the views of those they are talking to. so there's a formal process, there's what goes on in parliament, and then beyond that there is a lively media and public debate about the whole process. but i think the prime minister has demonstrated amply how committed she is to preserving life in northern ireland and
11:33 am
that open border as clearly as possible and that's where -- that's government policy and that's what we're going to deliver. >> everybody actually wants to answer this question. so briefly, lucinda. >> firstly, thank you. i think maybe because i'm so immersed in this debate at home in ireland, the views of people from northern ireland, from both sides of the divide and particularly the border counties are absolutely live and part of the consciousness and part of the political debate. i think it has been a huge priority for the government in dublin. the one thing i would say is that we are without -- or the people of northern ireland are without political representation. i see counsel general houston here who has been representing the interests of the people of northern ireland in the u.s., but we do not have an executive in northern ireland and i think it's shameful, frankly, over 500 days with no representation from the main political parties in northern ireland.
11:34 am
and at the same time, one of the main parties in northern ireland refusing to take their seats in westminster and represent the views of the people of northern ireland. so there's a huge vacuum in belfast and in london on behalf of the people of northern ireland which is an absolute disgrace. but in terms of how they are being represented and at every step taken into deep consideration by political representatives in dublin, i genuinely believe that they absolutely are being represented and that the nuance and the sensitivity of the position across the divide in northern ireland is very much understood, appreciated, and of huge concern in dublin. and i have to say in brussels. and that is why everywhere i go, in other eu member states and capitals across the european union, the first question they ask when they hear i'm irish is what about the peace process, what about the good friday agreement, what about the border. so there is a huge consciousness
11:35 am
of the impact and the potential catastrophe that brexit may bring to bear on northern ireland and huge solidarity as a result of it. >> douglas. >> i was actually in belfast last week for a couple of days meeting the northern irish chamber of commerce, manufacturing in northern ireland and other organizations. there is very real concern, i would actually say fear in northern ireland as to what lies ahead, a general sense of foreboding. while i concur with what kim says in terms of the seriousness and commitment of the government, it is an inescapable truth that brexit has reintroduced the border question to northern irish politics in a way that it was otherwise absent. let's not forget that one of the architects of the good friday agreement, the late, great john shume, talked about europe changing the geometry of the conversation in northern ireland because it created the space in
11:36 am
which people could self-identify as irish, self-identify as british, and find common grounds after years of sectarian conflict. in that sense i am deeply troubled as to the effect that brexit is going to have on the good will and the seriousness with which both governments in dublin and london want to try to find a way forward, but the reality is there are very difficult days ahead. >> amanda. >> the statistic was from the british social attitude survey and it was 87% of the 45% or so who voted to remain, so a small percentage of that. but i appreciate your comments. i lived in northern ireland for three years. i moved there a week before 9/11 so i feel very emotionally attached to everything that's happening there. when i was back in may, i was also very struck as douglas and lucinda were just talking about by how destabilizing everything has become. when i moved there, it was three years after the good friday agreement. i lived with a catholic woman
11:37 am
who just joined the police service of northern ireland and had to move out of our flat because we were close to an ira stronghold and it had been encouraging to see how far everything had come in the subsequent 20 years. i was very struck tangibly when i was there by how destabilizing things were. it's raised questions of identity, it's raised questions of the constitution. the northern ireland assembly clamsed in january 2017 over a domestic political dispute. very likely it will get reconstituted until brexit is resolved. the westminster parliament is looking at legislation to give civil servants in northern ireland more authority to make decisions in the absence of this. so in addition to all of the identity and constitution questions it's raised, there is practically no governance on the ground in northern ireland. the dup doesn't actually control any of the bordering constituencies with the republic of ireland and so a lot of the
11:38 am
instability is being questioned by people there. the paper that i've written outlined a lot of the practical questions that brexit is raising, both in terms of agriculture, business, and the one that struck me was the increase in all island services that have developed since the good friday agreement. one in particular which i think is quite poignant is health services. there was a decision which the dup had supported to close the one children's cancer hospital in belfast and centralize all children's cardiology in dublin. so there's now questions if you have a hard brexit as to what the access of medical services for people living in northern ireland is going to be to people in the republic. so this has a huge raft of consequences across the board on all areas of people's daily lives in northern ireland. >> thank you. so the gentleman at the back and then you and then -- well, then the lady in front of you sitting down.
11:39 am
brief questions because time is short. >> david chancellor from "the london times." a countryman of sir kim, as confused and worried as everyone. kim, you very confidently state that the free trade agreement will solve the border issue. i didn't hear any dissent from the panel. i wonder if the panel agree with that. i'd like you to expand briefly on how that works. you may say to me it requires very close regulatory alignment, but surely the greater the regulatory alignment, the less opportunity or possibility there is for britain to strike its own free trade agreements because they simply wouldn't be able to vary that deal to do international trade agreements, would they? >> who'd like to take that? >> well, i mean very briefly, i think you're absolutely right. even the reports in today's
11:40 am
paper is another version of a customs arrangement which is purportedly now in the draft text for the exit agreement. i think potentially places huge restrictions and potentially makes the striking of bilateral free trade agreements between the uk and other third countries pretty much impossible. so from an actual technical and practical point of view, it's not clear to me how this will actually work in practice. and then obviously the point which i think douglas made quite eloquently earlier around actually the desire of other countries to strike free trade agreements with the uk, particularly the u.s., which is the one that is held up as the obvious example, it's very hard to see how either a customs or free trade arrangement, which keeps the uk in very, very close
11:41 am
alignment if not full alignment from a regulatory point of view with the rest of the eu, how that will work or play with president trump's desire for much greater regulatory divergence from the rest of the eu and ultimately his america first policy. it's really unclear to me how any of that is compatible, frankly. >> how you'd stop that chlorinated chicken going from belfast to dublin. >> exactly. >> let me offer three very quick points. i think it was a danish commentator who observed britain is going from a country that was in that wants opt out to a country that's out and wants opt ins. on the trade, the greater the degree of regulatory alignment, the easier the frictionless character of the trade. one of the difficulties is knowing what brexiteer ministers want.
11:42 am
do they want all of the divergence they want they have been making speeches about for years or the frictionless trade. it's very difficult to achieve both. the answer you get is, listen, we want a super canada plus deal. now, let's just take a second on the canada deal. it stretches to 1,600 pages, it took seven years to negotiate, it effectively excludes services that constitute 79% of the current british economy. in that sense the idea that it alone resolves things are misplaced and doesn't resolve the specific issue of the irish border that we spent quite a lot of time discussing today. >> the lady in the second from back row. >> thank you. i'd ask -- i have two questions. firstly, what do you think will happen if parliament does not vote for this deal, the uk parliament? secondly, all the 27 member countries, their parliament also has to vote for it. what if one of them does not?
11:43 am
>> well, on the second, it's just the european parliament that needs to ratify. >> and the council. >> i think we've probably been a little bit into the first question, what happens if parliament doesn't vote. would anybody like to what they said earlier on that scenario? we've been painting the halloween scenarios for a while. no? the gentleman here in the front row. and then you. >> you mentioned some various scenarios, for example scotland and that kind of hypothetical what if case. is there some sort of fanciful but not completely unrealistic scenario in which northern ireland has a referendum on reuniting with the republic of ireland as a way to stay in the eu or is that completely outside any realm of possibility? thank you.
11:44 am
>> so that's a good question. the first question did ask about paying attention to the situation on the ground in northern ireland, but if this province which voted quite strongly to remain gets more and more -- protestants begin to realize that the cost benefit now has changed, you could get a united island referendum at some point in the next five, ten years? is that now realistic? >> certainly not in the next five, ten years in my opinion if i can simply express an opinion. i think there's been a lot of -- the first thing that happened at least in my consciousness after the uk voted in favor of leaving the european union was there was a press release demanding a border poll and that was predictive the following day. from my point of view, i think it's really unhelpful having
11:45 am
this conversation right now. i think it really alienates the unionist population. i think we have a tendency to think about the dup exclusively in the context of this discussion. there's a tendency to sort of dismiss the dup a little as you did earlier. they're sort of a relic and hard liners. >> i apologize. >> no, but that's a common view and it's the view that's propagated in the media and in the political discourse in the south of ireland as well. i think it completely ignores the fact that there's a whole unionist population in northern ireland, many of whom don't vote for the dup and don't support the dup necessarily but who are unionists and who believe in the union and who are really threatened by this talk of a border poll, of united ireland and who increasingly believe that the position of the european union or the position in dublin is somehow designed to
11:46 am
sort of propel that and to accelerate that process. i think we really need to be mindful of the views and sensitive to the views in northern ireland of all communities. we also need to understand that the good friday agreement, the peace process and everything -- everything that underpins the peace process is based on the principle of consent. consent of both communities. there's a real risk that we sort of lose sight of that. so i can quote the deputy prime minister who said that he expects that there's a prospect of a united ireland in his lifetime and that may very well be the case. he's a few years older than me. but i simply believe that it's not helpful to be talking about that right at this point in time. it's way too politically sensitive and i think that we have to deal with this really difficult hand that we have been dealt. we have to respect both communities. it may very well be that i think probably is the case, and if you
11:47 am
read amanda's paper about the constitutional implications and the devolusion implications on brexit as a whole, you probably have to acknowledge that it has accelerated this discussion. but the political thing to do right now is to steal the phrase dedramatize the discussion and try to keep all communities north and south of the border, catholics, protestants, comfortable with this process to achieve the best outcome for everybody. >> no, i agree with that. i don't think it's likely in the near term, but it's a possibility. but i also agree that the fact that we're even having this discussion is what's been so destabilizing in northern ireland because the beauty of the good friday agreement was that it largely took the constitutional question off the table for the near term. the fact that you had the uk and irish governments in the eu meant that this was almost a nonissue.
11:48 am
the unionists could stay part of the union, they could feel unionists, nationalists were able to operate without borders, without restrictions, and so the damaging effect of brexit on the psyche in northern ireland is the fact that this is becoming a live question again. i think opinion polls are showing there has been an increase for support for remain in northern ireland as a result of the contested nature of these conversations. the demographics don't necessarily support it and you don't necessarily have all nationalists aside from the shin faine calling for it and moving in that direction. >> we've got three or four minutes left. time for a couple of efficient questions. the woman in the middle on the right. >> hi. i was just wondering given what you've talked about with the u.s. and uk wanting a free trade deal being one of the key
11:49 am
priorities of both countries, and especially brexiteers, and given that right after brexit there will sort of be that two-year customs union, what would the u.s. and uk be able -- not be able to implement an actual trade deal, what will they be able to negotiate given that the uk will be skie decidiw closely aligned it will be with the eu. what topics or areas do you see where they could actually be negotiating. >> ambassador? >> it depends in part on how long it takes to negotiate the legal text that will turn into a proper treaty. the political deal that we expect to do as part of the overall package about the future relationship between the eu and the uk. now, if there is a good deal of detail in that political text, there needs to be some detail to have a meaningful vote in the house of commons, which has been
11:50 am
promised. then should have a reasonable idea of the direction of travel for the uk/eu agreement as we kick off we kick off negotiations with the u.s. in the trade deal. we'll see how it unfolds, but you can imagine for a while the negotiations are running parallel, but we do the deal with the eu more quickly than we can finish the negotiation with the u.s., and then once you know exactly where we got to with the eu, then that will make the u.s. feel much easier to complete. but it's speculative. we actually already used the working group. what we established was four minutes of the uk deal and to look at issues around financial services regulation where there
11:51 am
may be some quick wins on some low-hanging fruit which we can do even before we left the european union because it's consistent with the eu continuing participation. so the stock we can certainly do from the outset, and as the relationship with the eu becomes clearer in its detail, that will help us conclude the uk/u.s. agreement. >> we have time for a final question. >> the elephant in the room seems to be the european union. what should the eu do to keep the uk in if it values the defense capabilities and many others and really wants the u.k. to consider to get tie referendum. what should the eu do now if the
11:52 am
papers are correct and they're bringing the customs unit in the deal and they find that technically whatever solution to the back stuff. should the eu actually sabotage and try to find a deal with parliament and get to a second referendum, but does that trigger a no confidence vote? >> a lot of questions in there. we need really efficient answers from volunteers. kim, are you volunteering? >> i think you should give him what he's asking for. >> that's been the british answer for everything. i would make a couple points. firstly, i think one of the tragedies of brexit is that i think probably in the next ten years we will see eu reform of free movement labor. the only issue i think is big
11:53 am
enough that could have caused the british people to rethink the vote that they made would be a significant eu window for free movement of labor. but that moment, i fear, has passed. i then think given president mccraw's recent speech in terms of the eu in concentric circles, there is no reason why in the future britain couldn't see itself in at least one of those circles. but i fear the urgent and the important task of resolving difficulties we've been discussing today is going to create all those conversations in the next few weeks. >> i don't want to be drama tiesities i -- dramatizing this, but thank you very much to the panel. [ applause ]
11:54 am
today is election day, and c-span's election night coverage starts at 8:00 p.m. eastern with results of house, senate and governor's races. we'll bring the victory and concession is speeches from key votes around the country and hear your votes through the power of congress. election night results at 8:00 p.m. on c-span, your primary results of 2018. 2018 election results will start to come in as the polls close across the country tonight. the first polls close at 7:00 p.m. eastern in states such as
11:55 am
virginia and georgia, ohhiggeor. ohio, west virginia and idaho close an hour later. polls in west virginia and southern states including texas also close at 8:00. arizona, wisconsin and snork sno -- new york are among a number of states with polls closing at 9:00. hawaii close their polls at 11:00 p.m. eastern. there are no poll sites in oregon or washington state, but vote-in ballots are due at 11:00 p.m. c-span, your primary source for campaign 2018.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on